As her players answered questions about their 84-74 loss to Purdue after their Big Ten home opener Sunday afternoon, Lady Lions coach Coquese Washington stared into the distance, drumming her fingers on the table.
It was clear she wasn't pleased. And it was even more clear once she began answering questions herself.
Asked about the team's strong start - Penn State opened with a 7-0 run - Washington responded, "I didn't think we started strong," noting that the 46 points Penn State's defense gave up in the first half was "just way too many."
Asked if Purdue's strong transition game surprised her, Washington answered, "I wouldn't say we were surprised, but I wouldn't say we defended it well at all."
Even a question about what appeared to be a bright spot for the Lady Lions-14 blocks, which tied a team record-prompted a lukewarm response. "The problem is they're getting lots of blocked shots on dribble penetration or second-chance shots," Washington said. "I'd like to see them get less blocks if that means we do a better job containing the offense."
The loss dropped the No. 15 Lady Lions to 11-4, 2-1 in the Big Ten, and it gave the No. 15 Boilermakers their first conference victory after opening with two consecutive losses.
Maggie Lucas led the Lady Lions with 17 points, but she faced a zone defense in which she said the Boilermakers were shading so hard to her side that she felt like she was playing against a box-and-one. When the Lady Lions needed a big basket, they had trouble getting the ball to their top scorer.
But it was primarily due to Purdue's strong transition game that the Boilermakers had a 15-point lead with 12:50 to go in the second half. The Lady Lions came back with strong play from center Talia East, who scored six points, grabbed three rebounds and blocked one of her seven shots as Penn State cut the lead to two points, 70-68, with seven minutes to play.
The Lady Lions then went seven possessions without scoring, and Purdue took control of the game.
"I don't think we ran out of gas," said East. "I think they got a couple of shots down the stretch that we should have defended better, and it got away from us."
Penn State's next game is 7 p.m Thursday at the Jordan Center against Ohio State, which Washington said is "playing good ball now." She added: "We've certainly got to defend better than we did today."